Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a lot of questions to answer. This season was supposed to be a year of growth, and expectations had placed the Timberwolves as a fringe playoff team. With the record at 7-29, they’ve fallen woefully short of that. President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas will have to make some tough decisions heading into the trade deadline.
Big Picture for the Minnesota Timberwolves
One of the biggest issues this season has been rotations. The coaching staff can’t seem to figure out who to play and when. The injuries and suspensions have given players like Jaylen Nowell, Jaden McDaniels, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Naz Reid time to grow, and they’ve all proven that they deserve minutes.
As D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley make their returns, players that are currently producing as backups may be cut from the rotation. Head Coach Chris Finch said in a recent press conference, “We’re gonna tighten things up and we’re going to play the guys that can compete the hardest. We’re going to have a whole new reality coming out of the break with the way we approach things.”
This could mean that end-of-the-rotation guys could become expendable. With the trade deadline approaching, Finch needs to make this decision quickly so Rosas can confidently make moves at the deadline.
Who has Value for the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Managing the roster at this point in the season will be difficult. Both Russell and Beasley will remain out with injury and suspension, respectively. The games played between now and their returns will be instrumental in choosing their proper backups. The leftover will all be available. Current speculation places Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, Juan Hernangomez, Jake Layman, Nowell, Vanderbilt, and possibly McDaniels as trade pieces. If the Timberwolves are continuing to build, the power forward position needs bolstering, but as the worst team in basketball, any improvements are welcome.
This Year’s Pick and Job Security
Rosas’ best move so far could also be his downfall. In the trade to acquire Russell, the Golden State Warriors were given this year’s pick with top-three protection. The Timberwolves currently have about a 40 percent chance at landing in the top three. If they keep their pick this year, next year’s pick goes to Golden State unprotected.
If the pick lands in the top three, the Timberwolves would be at a fork in the road. They could select a player or they could trade the pick in a package for a star. Selecting with the pick would add more talent to the core of Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns, but leave very little financial flexibility since Towns and Russell are on max contracts. This opens the avenue of trading Towns and Russell then building on the younger players. It’s unlikely this would happen, as the front office has made clear they’re committed to Towns.
If the pick lands outside of the top-three, Rosas is in a very bad spot. Since he was hired, he would’ve hired two coaches, tanked for two seasons, and lost a lottery pick. That is abysmal regardless of the circumstances, especially when that could lead to trading away another franchise big-man. Seattle has been begging for a basketball team since the Sonics were relocated. If the Timberwolves manage to be one of the worst teams in the league, lose their pick, sell the team, all while sitting at the luxury tax line, the Supersonics may not be just a dream anymore.
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